How a family, who stumbled into being inn owners, stayed focused on the fundamentals of their business and rose to be one of the top-awarded luxury properties in the U.S. The second installment in a 5-part series exploring how the right partnerships create thriving businesses.
Mike Rydson likes to light-heartedly refer to his family as the “accidental innkeepers.” They were already living in the idyllic town of Melbourne Beach, Florida when a home came on the market in 2007 that caught their eye. Simply being “nosy neighbors” at the time, they decided to take a look. The Old Florida charm of the dilapidated property tugged at their heartstrings and they felt compelled to bring it back to its former glory. Initially, they were thinking they would turn it into commercial office space, but their plans soon evolved and Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast was born. This family of “accidental innkeepers” now has a near cult-like following from their adoring guests. Their AAA Four Diamond property has been awarded one of the “Top 25 Small Hotels in the US” and “Top 25 Hotels for Romance in the US” for the last five years in a row in TripAdvisor’s Best of the Best Awards.
What attracted you to working with White Stone Marketing?
Mike: Jumping Rocks had recently been out to photograph our property, and when I saw them again at a Select Registry conference we started chatting about how my website was in need of some updates. They lead me straight over to the White Stone Marketing booth and introduced me to the owner, Scott Crumpton. I felt a bit silly as we were looking at my current website together, I had told Scott that I had attempted to emulate the Brampton Inn. It turned out White Stone had designed that site! I felt like I had been busted! But Scott just laughed. No harm done and we got working on our own White Stone website right away.
What has surprised you in marketing your property over the years?
Mike: Truly the prevalence of the internet in general and how it has continued to grow. Even people who call the inn say they are on my website looking at it as we’re talking. Our website and working with White Stone have made all the difference in the world for our business.
Fun Fact: They’ll be doing the third iteration of their website with us this fall!
“I think it is a mistake when someone looks at marketing as a line item expense. I see it as an investment.”
How has working with White Stone Marketing changed your business?
Mike: I quickly recognized getting into this business that marketing changes all the time and you can easily throw money away on bad decisions. Back in grad school, although I’m an engineer by training, I had to take a few marketing classes. I was always frustrated by how esoteric they were with seemingly vague conversations about target audiences. I am a numbers guy, and that’s something I appreciate about White Stone Marketing. They bring in the data and we review it, and if something isn’t working, we stop spending money on it. I think it is a mistake when someone looks at marketing as a line item expense. I see it as an investment.
How has White Stone Marketing helped support your hospitality philosophy?
Mike: I have always believed that we need to be really good at two things: making breakfast and cleaning rooms. I was never even a B&B type of guy before opening this business with my wife and had a few bad experiences with them in the past. We have tried to make our property flexible to the type of experience that a guest might be looking for. For example, we have complimentary room service. If a guest prefers to dine privately in their room they can easily do so, or they can come down to the breakfast room if they feel like chatting with their neighbors and the innkeeper. End of the day, White Stone allows us to focus on our guests and the fundamentals of a great experience.
Port d’Hiver is currently on our Comprehensive Marketing Program, which includes:
PPC Maintenance & Optimization
SEO Maintenance & Optimization
Google Analytics Monitoring
Monthly Strategic Meetings
Social Marketing Monthly
Email Marketing Monthly
Strategic Content Creation
Over the last 5 years, they have seen amazing results!
Bottom line, we help our clients make more money.